Sex toys and products

How a Simple (Magic) Wand Started a Sexual Revolution

Published: OCTOBER 23, 2023
The Magic Wand cast a sexy spell over a generation. As the Magic Wand Micro is launched, we look at the fascinating story of feminism, orgasms and and the Sexual Revolution. 

The Magic Wand cast a sexy spell over a generation. As the Magic Wand Micro launches, we look at the fascinating story of feminism, orgasms and the Sexual Revolution.


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In the mid-90s, Shay Martin left behind a burgeoning career in research biology to join the family business founded by her mother. That business just happened to be a major name in the world of sex toy manufacturing.

As the second generation of women to lead Vibratex and the famous Magic Wand brand, Shay and her husband, Dan, have spent the last 24 years building one of the most successful sexual wellness businesses in the country.

The Vibratex owner and CMO of the Magic Wand brand grew up in this industry. As long as she can remember, Magic Wand was a legendary icon. "Long before our company took over the brand's importation and management, Magic Wand was an instrumental part of the women's movement and the sexual revolution of the 1960s," says Martin. "Because it didn't look like a sex toy - and back then, you could buy it like an appliance at a department store - it was more accessible than other vibrators and didn't look phallic in any way." It didn't take long before adult store owners realized the benefit of this and began buying vibrators from department stores to resell to their customer base.


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Long before our company took over the brand's importation and management, Magic Wand was an instrumental part of the women's movement and the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

When the Magic Wand came on the scene, it wasn't invented and marketed as a sex toy. "Most of the massagers never were, but if you were in the know and wanted to use it as a pleasure device, you could," says Carol Queen, Ph.D., Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist and author (with Shar Rednour) of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone. "And many did!" Queen says the wand was a game-changer partly because it emerged at precisely the right time and partly because it was a great design (with the large head and long handle, the vibration can be powerful, but you can easily vary how intense it is). This vibrator is strong and vibrates at a frequency that seems to be really pleasing to many.

Read: Your One-Stop Guide to Choosing the Best Magic Wand Vibrator


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Queen was stunned, early in her Good Vibrations tenure (she started working there in 1990), at all the women who had heard of the vibrator but never seen it. "When they came in to buy one, they sometimes looked very surprised, and I figured out that they expected they were supposed to insert it and were amazed (or, let's face it, freaked out) at how big it was," says Queen. "External clitoral stimulation wasn't on their radar! Sometimes we gave the 'about the clit’ speech multiple times a day."

Read: How the Magic Wand Helped Shape My Orgasmic Pleasure

Sure, there were other, smaller wands in the '60s and '70s. Still, the Magic Wand prevailed, Queen says, partly because of feminist sex educator and evangelist of self-pleasure Betty Dodson and women-oriented shops like Eve's Garden and Good Vibrations. "Only within about the last decade or so have other wands come onto the marketplace, but by now, the Magic Wand's reputation is cemented. I believe it was the first vibe with its own Twitter feed!


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"Dodson loved the Panabrator – and she really loved the Magic Wand!" says Queen. "Not only did she introduce and advocate for vibrator use at the 1973 NOW Sexuality Conference, but she introduced countless women to the wand in her Bodysex workshops, via her chapbook, "Liberating Masturbation," and later via her books, videos and website.

It's impossible to overstate how important Dodson was to women's sexuality education and boosterism in those years," Queen says. "The first woman-owned store in the U.S., Eve's Garden, was founded as a direct result of that NOW conference and Betty's vibe 'evangelism.'"

Eve's Garden founder Dell Williams went to Macy's to buy a vibrator and felt it was a judgmental experience, so she launched her store. Joani Blank, the founder or Good Vibrations, and her customers were so enamored of the wand that once, during some circa 1980 supply chain issues, she went to Japantown and bought a couple of cases to tide her/the store over.


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Dodson introduced the Magic Wand to many people at sex parties. Queen recalls the swingin' '60s and '70s as a time when sex toys were finding a more prominent and openly acknowledged market. "As more open discussion of women's sexuality was shared within feminism, it affected the sex lives of actual women who often didn't just use the vibe for solo play, but with partners too," she says. "A common criticism of the sexual revolution was that it was for men. But that's just one angle – many women came out, found themselves sexually through masturbation, or changed their lives in other ways. Becoming orgasmic (then as now) is a pretty powerful life-changer, and often you want to tell the world, whether at a play party or otherwise."

Magic wand users represent a multi-generational family that represents individuality, power, and pleasure.

Months before Dodson passed away, she appeared on the Netflix series The goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow. Her colleague, editor-in-chief of dodsonandross.com, and president of the Betty Dodson Foundation, Carlin Ross, shared a real orgasm on the show using - you guessed it - a Magic Wand.


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Read: How the Magic Wand Helped Shape My Orgasmic Pleasure

Since its inception in 1968, the Magic Wand has undergone minimal changes, maintaining its status as a gender-neutral device throughout its history. "It's obviously gained far more popularity as a clitoral stimulator than for any other use," says Ken Herskovitz, CEO at Vibratex. "That said, those with penises and prostates have definitely grown to appreciate exactly how much pleasure the Magic Wand's deep, rumbly vibrations can deliver."


The most notable modification was the simplification of its name. In the early 2000s, the label changed from 'Hitachi Magic Wand' to simply 'Magic Wand.' This shift aimed to reinforce the focus on the Magic Wand brand, a Registered Trademark, as new models like the Rechargeable and Plus were introduced. No other adjustments were implemented, and the Magic Wand Original remains almost identical to its 1968 counterpart. With its rich history and increasing popularity, Herskovitz estimates that over 10 million units have been sold cumulatively.

It is estimated that more than 10 million Magic Wands have been sold worldwide since the 1960s.

Growth can be good. Herskovitz explains that the Magic Wand Micro, an ultra-compact, pocket-sized version of the iconic Magic Wand, began as an idea for a tiny companion model, like a bullet. "As development evolved, we realized it was possible to create a fully functioning wand that was mechanically very similar to the larger models," he says. "Once we saw it take that form, we knew it had to happen."

The full line of Magic Wand vibratorsThe full line of Magic Wand Vibrators: Original, Plus, Rechargeable, Mini and Micro.

The Micro, measuring only 4.5 inches long and weighing only 3 ounces, is the latest addition to the Magic Wand family. This makes it over eight inches shorter than the Rechargeable and Plus models.

So far, Herskovitz says feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. "From the initial focus group's responses to trade show attendees who got a sneak peek a few months ago, everyone was in awe," he says. Reactions that quickly went from "Awww" to "Ooohhh!" once they felt the power the Micro generates are a testament to the fact that greatness can be found in the smallest packages.

Herskovitz says he could probably do a doctoral thesis on why the Magic Wand is the go-to gold standard that wand users keep returning to. But he believes it boils down to three main reasons.

The first is trust. "People realize that any product that's remained popular for half a century must actually do its job - and do it reliably," he says.

Second are the powerful vibrations. "Anyone sharing their Magic Wand story will most likely start by acknowledging its undeniable power. This legendary feature alone may be all that needs to be said," he says.

Finally, there's the community. "Magic Wand isn't just a reliably strong vibrator - it's an iconic piece of our cultural history. There's a great bonding among Magic Wand fans - even if they never meet or speak about it. It's a multi-generational family that represents individuality, power, and pleasure."


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Ryn Pfeuffer

Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. She got her start in the mid-90s at the Philadelphia Weekly, managing a 10-page section of the newspaper and more than 500 lonely hearts.Her professional stock skyrocketed when she started writing a saucy (and pre-Carrie-Bradshaw-era) dating advice column called “Ask Me Anything.” She appeared regularly on local radio stations and late-night TV as an expert on everything from grooming...

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